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New Dispute Resolution requirements for all online sellers

By Chris Dawson February 4, 2016 - 7:26 pm

Whilst UK Politicians are gearing up to takes side on the In/Out EU referendum, another piece of EU legislation is about to hit all online sellers who trade outside their home country. For us in the UK, that means if you sell to France, Germany or any other EU country you need to read on:

ODR for cross border traders

According to European Regulation on Consumer ODR (ODR Regulation), all businesses selling goods or services online within the EU must carry the following link on their website to the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platform.

Technically you’re already in breach of the regulations as they were due to come into effect on the 9th of January. However the EU didn’t have their website ready which will now launch on the 15th of February.

Basically to sum it up, you have to provide a link to the EU’s online dispute resolution service so that buyers can complain about you there rather than the more expensive option of taking you to court. The idea is that you and your problem buyer will be able to sort things out relatively amicably and without racking up legal fees.

What actions do you need to take?

Participation in the ODR is optional, but even if you choose not to participate there are some requirements for all business sellers. Online retailers including marketplace sellers must link to the ODR platform in an easily accessible place.

Seriously guys, we know you’ve just edited all your eBay listings to meet the Product Identifier requirements. We don’t believe you can stick the link in your Business Seller Information which would be a one time easy update as it’ll be text only, not a live link.

If you have an “About Us” page in your shop we’d suggest you stick the link their and have done with it (and if you don’t create a shop page to place the link on). It’s hard to recommend appending it to each and every item description as frankly it doesn’t form part of your product description. Whilst of course we have to suggest you obey the letter of the law, this is one instance where we’d suggest doing the absolute minimum required. The chance are that if you’ve bothered reading this far you’re a reputable seller who will rectify any customer issues before it gets to ODR or goes legal.

An eBay spokesperson confirmed the news saying “All affected Cross Border Trade sellers will be required to comply with the new rules and display the link to the ODR website. Our current advice for sellers can be found at “.

ADR for UK sellers

As far as the ODR goes you don’t have to worry if you only ever sell to the UK or other countries outside the EU. Unfortunately however, there is another bit of legislatio, which will still apply to you, the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

As with the ODR, the regulations do not make participation in ADR schemes mandatory for traders. However perversely they do require almost all online retailers to point the consumer to a certified ADR scheme – where they cannot resolve a dispute in-house – and declare whether or not they intend to use that scheme.

In other words you could point your disgruntled customer to an approved ADR scheme and then tell them you have no intention of using ADR and you’ll see them in court (or more likely you’ll just resolve the issue and move on).

  • Steve
    1 year ago

    EU Directives are not laws they are guidance for EU state members to make laws this is scaremongering nothing more

    • Kyle
      1 year ago

      True, but this Directive has been implemented in the UK via 2015/542, 2015/1392, and 2015/1972.

      However after giving it a quick read it looks like you are only “obliged” to link to an ADR if you are in a regulated industry (think industries covered by Ofgem, Ofcom, FCA, etc). For us mere sellers we only have to provide the customer with a link to an ADR if our in-house disputes process falls through.

    • Kyle
      1 year ago

      Also it seems that the ODR isn’t covered by the ADR Directive but by Regulation 524/2013. Regulations are different from Directives and apply EU wide without national governments having to pass them into legislation.

      The ODR Regulation does indeed seem to require all online traders link to the ODR but it seems to indicate that on a marketplace it is the marketplace’s responsibility to link to the ODR so if you’re just an eBay seller you don’t need to do anything. The question is how do PayPal disputes or card chargebacks fit into this. The question seems to have been raised during the consultation process but was never properly answered by the UK or the EU.

      The ODR Regulation also requires you to list an email address on your site. They don’t make any mention of emails hidden behind contact forms but I’m sure they’d be alright…

  • Gerry007
    1 year ago

    .
    Most online buyers use some sort of payment card and are therefore fully covered by that payment method, end of………

    • MutatedMatt
      1 year ago

      No, not really. The ADR/ODR is different, it might be worth reading up about this before dismissing it out of hand.

  • Tinker
    1 year ago

    Until the first person gets prosecuted for non compliance were just ignoring this

  • tinker
    1 year ago

    roll on the referendum,
    these people fail to understand that we need to trade sometimes, justifying their salary does not pay mine

    • 1 year ago

      You’re right here… when was the last time you got taken to court or had a dispute you couldn’t resolve (even if it meant bending over and taking one)

      This is yet more small business red tape which the government is supposed to be putting a stop to and which the EU spew forth.

      Thing is it’s good for the disreputable businesses that don’t care… but they’ll simply ignore it anyway :D

  • Martin
    1 year ago

    Surely the obvious solution is for Ebay to insert this somewhere.

    Sorry to disappoint tinker, but please do not live under the illusion that leaving the EU will solve all your problems. Fact is that if as suggested we enter trade agreements with the EU we will still both pay huge fees to the EU, and be subject to their rules for trading there. This a fact analysts on both sides agree about. Countries such as Norway already do this. There is a huge amount of disinformation circulated.

    The difference is that the EU will still make their laws and we will have zero influence, whereas right now we are still seen as an influential member state, maybe not Germany, but worth paying attention to. And we who will have no say will have to comply with these laws if we want to trade with EU.

    There is also no suggestion that coming out of the EU will in any way relax UK law on distance selling. So don’t get your hopes up on this one.

  • tinker
    1 year ago

    will staying in the EU solve more problems than leaving ,is the question we ask?

    • 1 year ago

      Flip a coin!

      Our own government is almost as good as the EU for spewing forth red tape for small businesses :-(

  • Martin
    1 year ago

    Despite what both sides tell you the genuine answer, I think, is that nobody really knows.

    From my point of view at least in the EU it is a relatively known situation and a degree of certainty is better for business, whereas outside represents a big unknown risk. Secondly, the EU still represents a huge market growth opportunity for the UK. Think what will happen as standards of living and incomes start to rise in the eastern countries. If we are outside the club, whether we like it or not, we will be competing with one arm tied behind our backs, and I think that is no good for either business owners or employees.

    • Sam O'levski
      1 year ago

      Standards of living, incomes, and also prices have started to rise in Eastern Europe, but as a Brit who lived and worked in one of the countries for several years, I can assure you they’ve still got a long way to go.
      People are buying online from Sports Direct and many other sites, but once you get away from the few large cities and holiday resorts, it’s a very different world.
      In some villages I know well, animals are slaughtered in the garden, no water indoors, and toilets a hole in the ground, so no surprise when village populations are decreasing in order for people to move to western Europe (not a racist comment, but the simple truth as reported by their media).
      Many of those working here are sending money back there (I live in a smallish community where foreign workers regularly send money overseas when I line up in my local post office for proof of postings !), so their earnings are not being spent in the UK economy the way yours or mine would be, so I fail to see why it’s better to stay in.

  • james
    1 year ago

    what at first glance seemed like non-news, suddenly looks like a great thing…..

    for us ebay sellers, i’m fairly certain its ebay who should be complying with this legislation.
    AND….
    since they now have to offer fair and independent arbitration, that should be the end of completely biased and unfair unilateral ebay decisions, no?

  • james
    1 year ago

    and as for the EU debate…

    how many of you during the Scottish independece deabate, where all about “bigger is better, stronger is better, together is better, why break a union, strength in numbers, blah blah blah”,
    yet when it comes to Europe, say

    • tinker
      1 year ago

      yes the scots wanted to split with the UK yet stay in europe making a mockery of their argument, with oil prices the way they are they would really be in the shit now

    • james
      1 year ago

      you obviously missed the point of their argument completely.

    • tinker
      1 year ago

      nope did not miss a thing the point of the scots independence argument was based on history and anything but England, not sound financial common sense

    • Sam O'levski
      1 year ago

      I think you’ll find it was only SOME of the Scots who wanted to split – I know a great many people North of the border who were and are just as happy being part of the UK, and consider themselves to be just as patriotic as those who wanted to split.
      Friends tell me lots of smaller communities are still suffering from the in fighting and divisions it caused, so please don’t generalise on such an important issue.

      That aside, keep up the entertaining input, thank you.

    • tinker
      1 year ago

      not so much infighting, more closet racialism against the English

    • Sam O'levski
      1 year ago

      ”not so much infighting, more closet racialism against the English”

      I think if you’d visited some smaller communities and listened to a few opinions, you’d realise your generalisation is way off the mark, and is either intended to offend or provoke arguments on here.
      Many English people living in Northern cities are rather anti-Westminster also, so does that mean they are guilty of ‘closet racialism’ against themselves ?
      There is a lot of anti-English sentiment in Scotland, but probably not any more than the anti Scots, Welsh and Irish sentiments I’ve observed in various parts of England.

    • Tinker
      1 year ago

      I live in Scotland I speak from first hand experiance ,not second hand reports & hearsay,
      Lest we forget ! up here means Flodden, culloden , Bannockburn , etc ,not recent wars

    • 1 year ago

      Its not just people living in Northern Cities that have an anti-Westminster view. I live in deepest darkest Cornwall and to many around here Westminster is a sick joke that offers much but always has reasons for delivering little or nothing.

  • Mike
    1 year ago

    The EU is full of shit I take anything it says with a bucket of salt.

  • Tinker
    1 year ago

    Every year they have common riding events in the scottish borders based on events that happened hundreds of years ago. The young men sing anti english songs , so graphic and racist, that if they were directed at gays or coloured they would be arrested

    • 1 year ago

      …and when are the Scots going to tell the World about what they did to the 9th Roman Legion. It marched North never to be seen again almost 2,000 years ago.

    • 1 year ago

      The first for news.

    • Roger C
      1 year ago

      Umm? It would have been “Picts” that defeated the 9th Legion, not “Scots” . .

      . . and what does all this have to do with the thread? Stop it children!

  • tinker
    1 year ago

    As with the scots blaming problems on Westminster,
    Westminster blames Brussels ,
    so the Germans best watch out everything will be their fault if we leave the EU, LOL

  • chrisL
    1 year ago

    Please remember that leaving the EU would mean it would be more difficult to sell your items to EU Countries. Currently there is no customs duty within the EU. So you can buy items in the EU online without having to pay customs duty, and you can sell to the EU without the hassle of Customs Forms and declaring your goods correctly.

    If the UK leaves the EU then it will make buying and selling in the EU much more complicated and expensive.

    The cost of mailing items to the EU would also increase as the Parcel Companies will need to calculate customs clearance into their prices (similar as it is when sending to the USA)

    • Gerry007
      1 year ago

      .
      You mean like Chinese sellers do now……..!!

    • tinker
      1 year ago

      leaving the EU would mean no Vat so you could be more competitive in Europe

    • Gerry007
      1 year ago

      .
      tinker
      Leaving the EU will not cut anything, we will still have a purchase tax, just under a different name…

    • Tinker
      1 year ago

      Yes were sure they will still have a purchase tax though if were not members UK sellers cant charge it , and as it is today we dont charge the US or Australian equivilant ,in addition export goods to non eu countries are VAT free

    • 1 year ago

      Lets try to get some sanity back into this discussion. The EU sells us considerably more than we sell to them. So it can be expected that the EU(without the UK) will want to continue to trade with the UK. If they pile on restrictions or additions costs then it can be expected that the UK Government will do the same. So the EU will find it much more difficult to sell us Volkswagens, Fiats, Peugeots, Citroens etc. These companies and many others will lobby their own domestic Governments and the EU to lift the restrictions on sales to and from the UK.

      Within a very short period of time there will have been negotiations, agreements and all will essentially be back to normal. After all its in the EU’s interest probably more so than the UK’s.

      I received a leaflet through the door that stated the old rubbish about 3 million UK jobs being at risk if we leave the EU. The only UK jobs that will be at risk are the UK MEP’s and the UK citizens who work within the EU bureaucracy. They will all lose their jobs over a short period of time.

      All those in British Industry will not really notice much difference. The change over from being a part of the European EU Super State to being an Independant UK again will be short and the Trade Deals will be rapidly concluded. So in Industry little change will be noticed. And of course in the longer term we will be back trading with the rest of the World again as well as the EU. So things shoukd be much better than now.

    • Gerry007
      1 year ago

      .
      Tinker
      This is why all the chinese sellers try to get away with the tax on imports & VAT, by saying it is a ‘gift’.

      It will depend on how it is worked, maybe we will still have to charge tax on exports to the EU, maybe we won’t and tax will be payable when it reaches the EU.

      Tax should of course be payable in the US, AU etc on arrival, but that is the point of ‘gifts’.

    • tinker
      1 year ago

      we sell more to the US than anywhere ,
      there are all manner of rules & duty rates when importing to the US though in general
      goods of a value of up to $200 are duty free, regardless of being a gift or not

    • Kyle
      1 year ago

      @Gerry007 Marking packages as “gifts” is a different problem and gifts over £36 should still be charged VAT and duty anyway.

      What Tinker is talking about is the VAT LVCR and low value duty exemptions. Generally speaking you won’t be charged any duty if the goods are worth <£300 and VAT if they're worth <£15 (equivalent to 22 EUR as set by the EU). However the UK doesn't make as much from VAT as other countries and is thus rather lax about enforcing the £15 and in reality it's more like £50+. I think if the UK left the EU you'd probably see the LVCR officially increase to something like £100 to be more inline with the US (200 USD), Australia (1000 AUD), and so on.

    • Kyle
      1 year ago

      @chrisL, I’m sorry but you are mistaken. You are making the common mistake of thinking that the EU is more than it is. The EU, single market, customs union, and more are all separate and you can pick and mix what you want.

      Customs duties are not charged between the EU and the single market (which includes countries such as Norway) or the EU and the EUCU (which includes countries like Turkey). This is also how you have weird situations like Gibraltar which is in the EU but not the customs or VAT areas. Most likely if the UK left the EU it would fall back into organisations like the EEA and/or EUCU so there should be no change in regards to duties between the UK and the EU but there could be changes between the UK and Norway/Turkey/Switzerland/etc.

      What you are probably thinking of is VAT and what kind of affect that will have will depend on the goods you sell and how they might be affected by LVCRs. If you sell lower value goods then most likely selling into the EU from outside will give you a competitive advantage like it does for the US and Chinese sellers.

      Our courier costs are actually cheaper to non-EU locations so it’s impossible to say what will happen in that regard.

      @Gerry007, I’m sure what Tinker means is that you wouldn’t have to charge VAT to EU customers.

      Despite the Chancellor always getting the blame, VAT rules are set by the EU so leaving would give us much greater control (e.g. drop below 15%, zero rate feminine hygiene products, etc). If for example the UK were to leave and screw up negotiations and have to trade on WTO rules then you’d most likely see a drop in VAT to offset customs duties (duties currently go straight to the EU so if we left they would go to HMRC who could then cut VAT to zero sum it).

  • Chris
    1 year ago

    I contacted Ebay yesterday and was told that there has been no training given to staff about this (he had never heard of it) and so we should not worry about it. He assured me that if any such changes needed to be made, they would put out another one of their “spend 2 days changing all your listings yet again” announcements to cover it.

    • james
      1 year ago

      ebay dont train CS on anything. if it happens, it’ll be your fault and you should have did something about it sooner, whatever “it” is.

  • Tinker
    1 year ago

    Of course there is every chance that the EU may impose high import duties on UK goods as punishment for leaving, though thats a whole new argument

    • Kyle
      1 year ago

      Slapping random duties on the UK would be against WTO rules so they can’t do that.

      It also depends what we’d be exporting. If the goods are made in China then if probably declared their country of origin will be China and the duties will be at Chinese rates. I doubt we’re selling left hand drive cars back to the EU.

  • Tinker
    1 year ago

    Must admit I am leaning towards the stay in an influence argument ,as its going to be just as complicated costly and involved to leave as it is to stay in the EU

  • MutatedMatt
    1 year ago

    This article is a little misleading especially the first paragraph. If you read the actual legislation and the Department of BIS’ associated guidelines – The requirement for publishing the link to the ODR platform on your website applies to anyone selling online, regardless of whether you are selling things in a different country or not.

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